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Fan protests took place during Matchday 16 of the Malaysian Super League


GOALBY    ZULHILMI ZAINAL     Follow on Twitter

Amidst the matches that took place on Matchday 16 of the Malaysian Super League, football fans intensified their pressure on the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) at various stadiums across the country.

The Ultras Malaya-led protests, involving the lifting of banners, visuals displays and singing of chants, were spotted in several matches, were conducted to put pressure on the current FAM president to step down and for the governing body to be reformed, in conjunction with the FAM poll scheduled to take place on 25 May.

The most awaited match of the week, between second and third-placed Pahang and JDT on Friday, was began with JDT fans displaying a banner criticising FAM and singing "Rombak saja FAM itu" (Just reform FAM). Curiously, two of the three presidential candidates, Sultan Ahmad Shah (incumbent FAM president) and Tengku Abdullah Ahmad Shah (current FAM deputy president) are members of the Pahang royalty, whereas the remaining candidate, Tunku Ismail Idris is the Johor crown prince and also the Johor FA president.

A protest during another MSL match on that night however took a more sinister turn. During the Sarawak-PKNS match in Kuching, in addition to the chants and tifo display, the fans lit flares and threw smokebombs onto the pitch-side track, putting media photographers in harm's way. Fortunately no one was injured and the match was not disrupted.

The smokebomb and flare protest in Kuching (Credit: Twitter @ultrasmalaya07)

Saturday's match involving league leaders Selangor, against Sime Darby, saw their fans protesting towards the end of the match, after the win was secured. Their ultra fans sang chants, raised more banners and crowd their stand to ensure the police could not get through to confiscate the banners.

However the most eye-grabbing protest must surely be the one that took place in Kuala Terengganu during the Terengganu-LionsXII match on Saturday. The fans who had already expected overzealousness on the police's part, took to protesting on the rooftop of an adjacent building, by hanging a giant banner on the side of the building and lighting up flares, which could be seen from inside the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium.

In addition to protests during MSL matches, supporters of Premier League teams also got in on the action, with similar protests conducted during the Negeri Sembilan-Sabah, Kedah-Felda and JDT II-DRB Hicom matches.

In the run up to these protests, the Ultras Malaya twitter account also posted various pictures of fans displaying banners that criticise FAM in public places throughout the country. One such picture is of a number of young men, who call themselves 'Peejay Cartel' holding a banner in front of the Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya.

A protest banner  held by a group of men known as "Peejay Cartel"

Curiously, a number of the banners were also critical of the Malaysian sports media. When contacted, a high-ranking Ultras Malaya member who declines to be named provided their reason for taking a swing at the media as well. "We believe that several prominent media organisations and personnel, and also a sportswriters' association, are shilling for the current football administration to maintain the status quo that, if not brought down, will ensure thirty more years of embarrassment."

He also added that they believe that the media is quick to pounce on fans' mischief, when the airtime or print space could be better used to highlight FAM's mismanagement and more pertinent issues.